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Louisville holds court atop the ACC preseason power rankings

Hailey Van Lith is poised to lead Louisville back to the Final Four this season. Getty images photo.
Hailey Van Lith is poised to lead Louisville back to the Final Four this season. Getty images photo.

With the season starting this week, the ACC is set to be loaded yet again. There are five teams ranked in the AP Top 25, but there is a lot of depth in this conference. I set out to rank every team, which will serve as projections for how I believe 2022-2023 will turn out.

  1. Louisville: No surprise that I expect the Cardinals to run it back this year, after last season’s run to the Final Four. Even though they lost top scorers Emily Engstler and Kianna Smith, they still boast one of the nation’s most dynamic players in Hailey Van Lith, who is ranked by ESPN as the ninth-best college hoops player in the nation. Both her and Florida State graduate transfer Morgan Jones are on the Naismith Trophy Watch List. There are also solid role players Olivia Cochran, Liz Dixon, Nyla Harris and Mykasa Robinson, and this team should be right back in the thick of things this season.
  2. NC State: After advancing to the Elite Eight, the Wolfpack will be another team bringing two top players, in forward Jakia Brown-Turner and guard Diamond Johnson. The latter, in particular, will be interesting to watch as she gets a bigger role with the team. Florida State transfer River Baldwin will be a huge addition in the low post in being a presence at the rim. Other players to watch will include Jada Boyd and Camille Hobby. 
  3. Virginia Tech: The reigning ACC Player of the Year, Elizabeth Kitley, is expected to pick up where she left off, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds while also averaging multiple blocks per game. There’s also the new addition of Ashley Owusu in the backcourt, who will provide a much-needed presence in terms of managing the offense. Both players are on the Naismith Watch List. Taylor Soule, Cayla King and Georgia Amoore round out a supporting cast that will try and atone for last year’s loss in the round of 64.
  4. North Carolina: Guards Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby will once again headline a team that made it to the Sweet 16 last season, as both are also on the Naismith list. There’s also the returning supporting cast of Anya Poole, Eva Hodgson and Kennedy Todd-Williams, and you have a Tar Heels team that can go very far again this year.
  5. Notre Dame: Olivia Miles and Maddy Westbeld will be the players to watch for the Fighting Irish. Sonia Citron and Dara Mabrey provide plenty of scoring and passing to create a balanced attack.
  6. Georgia Tech: The loss of Lorela Cubaj to the WNBA draft as well as Lotta-Maj Lahtinen is something that the Yellow Jackets have to overcome this year. Eylia Love and Nerea Heremosa will be charged with leading this team now along with new addition, Georgia native Cameron Swartz.
  7. Miami: The Hurricanes lost star Kelsey Marshall, and will be relying on a committee of players to fill the void. Destiny Harden, Ja’Leah Williams, Lola Pendade and Karla Erjavec must step up from last year and all improve as players if they want to get back to the Tourney.
  8. Duke: I really like the Blue Devils’ tournament chances this year for a few reasons. One is the addition of sharpshooter Ashlon Jackson in recruiting, providing much-needed spacing. The second is the backcourt duo of Celeste Taylor and Shayeann Day-Wilson continuing to play at a high level offensively. The third is that combo player Elizabeth Balogun will continue to provide a crucial spark.
  9. Boston College: Cameron Swartz and Taylor Soule taking their talents down south to conference rivals will prove to be detrimental to the Eagles. However, they still have talent to work with in Ally VanTimmeren and Maria Gakdeng.
  10. Wake Forest: Guard Jewel Spear will be the leader of this team once again, as the Demon Deacons try to make the jump from the WNIT to the NCAA Tournament. Elise Williams, Niyah Becker, Olivia Summel and Kaia Harrison will be there to provide her with the necessary backup. 
  11. Florida State: The Seminoles were gutted by transfer portal losses such as River Baldwin and Morgan Jones. Remaining players including Sara Bejedi, O’Mariah Gordon and Erin Howard will be needed to stay afloat this season.
  12. Syracuse: Buffalo transfer Dyaisha Fair will give the Orange a major lift this season. Pairing her with Teisha Hyman will make for a fun tandem.
  13. Pitt: Seniors Dayshanette Harris and Amber Brown along with junior Liatu King will try and lead this team out of the abyss this season.
  14. Clemson: Seniors Amari Robinson and Daisha Bradford stand out on a team with plenty of veteran leadership and young talent.
  15. Virginia: The Cavaliers have plenty of veteran leaders in Camryn Taylor, Mir McLean and Taylor Valladay.
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